Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Why the Raptors Live in Toronto
If I was completely ignorant of the NBA and was asked to match team names with the cities or locales they represent, I wouldn't think twice about sticking "Utah" with "Raptors." Not only is it logical, as Utah is one of the great dinosaur-bearing states, but it sounds right. There is a dinosaur called Utahraptor, after all. But I'd be wrong. Toronto gets the Raptors and Utah gets the Jazz. The fact that Salt Lake City isn't exactly known for its vibrant jazz scene would confuse me, especially coupled with the fact that glacier-scoured Ontario is not exactly a hotbed of Mesozoic fossils. So what gives?
It's pretty simple, really. In the seventies, a struggling team called the New Orleans Jazz - that's a sensible name - was bought and moved to Salt Lake City, and it was decided that the name would stay.
In the mid-nineties, the NBA decided to expand into Canada. One of the new teams was called the Vancouver Grizzlies. Another sensible name. The other team, however, was named by a national contest. The world was still trying to kick a powerful post-Jurassic Park hangover, and voila. The Toronto Raptors were born.
Their mascot, you'll be happy to know, is simply known as... The Raptor. Also, I wish that there were more photos of me from my teenage years. I was a big Chicago Bulls fan, but even after I stopped caring much about basketball, I got myself a Raptors tee shirt. I mean... it's a fricking sports team named after a fricking dinosaur.
UPDATED: My wife pointed out that Utah is not a "city," per se, so I changed that language. And added the bit about my handsome Raptors tee. And, my wife is awesome.